Skip to Main Content

Census Information

Census of Governments--Overview

The Census of Governments provides data on federal, state, and local governments.

"The Census of Governments identifies the scope and nature of the nation's state and local government sector; provides authoritative benchmark figures of public finance and public employment; classifies local government organizations, powers, and activities; and measures federal, state, and local fiscal relationships."

Since 1957 it has been conducted by the Census Bureau every 5 years in years ending in 2 and 7.

What Are the Types of Government in the U.S.?

In addition to the federal government and 50 state governments, there are five types of local governments: counties, municipalities, townships, independent school districts, and special districts.  See Lists & Structure of Governments - How the Data are Collected for further details.--from FAQ's Census of Governments

Census of Governments News


2012 Census of Governments: Revised Counts of Governments and Individual State Descriptions — The updated counts of governments are a complete enumeration of state and local governments that were in existence on June 30, 2012. The Individual State Descriptions provide the foundation of how government entities are identified and classified for the U.S. Census Bureau statistics on governments. These estimates and state descriptions are part of the organization component of the 2012 Census of Governments.

Conducted every five years, the census of governments provides the only uniform source of statistics for all of the nation’s state and local governments. These statistics allow for in-depth trend analysis of individual governments and provide a complete, comprehensive and authoritative benchmark of state and local government activity. The organization component is the first of the three components of the census of governments — the employment and finance components are released as separate products.

These counts are an update from the preliminary release on August 2012 and reflect the final enumeration of governments from the 2012 Census of Governments. This release also provides the number of governments by state, by type of government, by size, and by county location. The descriptions for each state and the District of Columbia outline the organizational structure of each state. The summaries are divided according to the five basic types of local governments recognized for the Census Bureau’s classification of government entities — county, municipal, township, school district and special district governments.

Internet address: <>.

Census of Governments at WSU Libraries

Census of Governments in print:

  • 1957-1977 are in Terrell Library Compact Storage (basement).  See the library catalog for specific volume information.
  • 1957 Census of Governments (6 vol.)  call number  B12198
  • 1962 Census of Governments (7 vol.)  call number B12199
  • 1972 Census of Governments (9 vol.)   call number B12201
  • 1982-1992 Census of Governments print volumes can be found in the Holland and Terrell Libraries government documents collection (3rd floor West) under the SuDoc call no. C 3.145/4 [yr].

Census of Governments online:

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Lorena O'English
Terrell Library 120-D
Washington State University

Office Hours: (Spring, 2023): Click the "Schedule Appointment" link above to set up a Zoom appointment, or email me directly via the button (which I recommend).
WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us